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October 03, 20235 min read


  1. If someone's spouse, parent, etc. has died, skip the “He’s (or she’s) in a better place.”

I overheard this today and cringed. It’s awkward. More than awkward. When I have been offered that “solace” in the past I have taken it more as an insult than comfort. Unless the person was in agony for a long time and you are very close, it’s better not to go there. Although it’s understandable where the sentiments come from, it can prompt an internal response similar to the old “Doesn’t he look good?” at the wake. To some it may sound fine but to others those words can feel like a dagger.

How about “I’m so sorry. I know how much you will miss xyz.” And maybe mention some nice memories. And if you are compelled to say you are praying for the deceased person, add that you’ll pray for your friend to be okay too. 

Keep it short and offer your ear or a shoulder if you are friends outside the office. 

  1. Think twice before you say the words “Sure” or “Of course, no problem.” Before you answer, ask yourself how many times have you been asked to do extra work with no extra pay or recognition? If the answer is countless, then it’s a problem. Ask yourself another question. “Do I mind taking on extra work on a consistent basis or do I resent it?” 

           If you’re that go to person and especially if you have nothing to show for it except  

           exhaustion from longer work hours, then you sold your soul to the company. Maybe it 

           was fun in the beginning but now you’re trying to find a way out of your self inflicted 


Maybe you are just realizing that “they” don’t even bother asking anyone else to save their time and frustration. After all, they know you will do it every single time and do it without complaints (outloud). They know you will do it even when they understand deep inside (well maybe not that deep) that it is not fair, justified, or respectful to rely on that one man or woman for work no one else is willing to take on (unless “forced” or financially compensated). “They” don’t want to think much about it because they are also under pressure from above. Or if they are the top tier (owners), even more pressure. The work must be done. 

And overworking employees has been even more prevalent with labor shortage.

Resentment will continue until it makes you literally sick or until you quit, thinking that’s your only option. You might feel as though you have dug yourself into a deep hole. Time to climb out. But first stop thinking of all the explanations you have collected for so long in your head. You have no need for them. You deserve a life outside work just as much as anyone else around you. Your options are either learn how to say no or continue to take it on but as a part of a promotion, raise and agreed upon hours. 

So if you don’t really mean those five words, don’t say them.  There are ways to refuse a project. Make your plan on how to say no and be that person who you feel good about.     (Asking for more responsibility is a whole other story or strategy).

  1.  Don’t bring up your personal problems at work. It is not the place and ultimately can and probably will, be held against you. If your best friend is someone you met at work, then save it for your times outside of work and don’t discuss problems during the work day. The exception is if your partner, parent or pet is dying or has died. Let a few people know so that they will understand if you are off your game and emotional and that is not your usual behavior. You deserve support. 


  1. Don’t ever bring up rumor, innuendo or gossip whether you are male or female. You will have a crowd eager to listen but it won’t work out well for you, or anyone in the end. 

  1. “Who are you voting for?” Not that this really has to be stated but those words can be the beginning of a chain of very uncomfortable conversations. Don’t assume anyone has the same affiliations as you. Even though it is a serious challenge to keep politics out of the workplace, resist your urges to comment on controversial subjects. There are just too many emotions on both sides and you don’t want to fuel that fire. 

  1. Don’t bring up your salary to your manager or boss unless you have a Plan B because even if you are very confident that the business can’t go on without you, make sure you are ready to deal with the consequences of finding out you were wrong!

And if you love your job, keep in mind a high paycheck won’t keep you warm at night. Well, it could buy you more heating, but just how much heat do you want??

  1. Stop complaining. There is no one within earshot who wants to hear how hard it is to do your job. Or how you are late because of traffic. Do you really want to be The Complainer? Get as many as you can to join you? Complainers bring morale down. If you’re going to be at work for eight or nine or more hours why would you want to be in a bad mood? It makes the day go by much slower. The more positive your mood, the faster the day goes. It’s an art. And a great habit. If it’s just your personality to be friendly, kind, and good tempered then your co-workers are lucky. Try to be that person. It will grow on you and you’ll feel better too. Remember that people generally tend to reflect back attitudes they perceive coming from others. 

  1. Don’t keep coming up with excuses on why you’re late. Once, okay. Over and over. You are that annoying person. It’s not a piece of cake for anyone to get to work on time!

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Stephanie Sharpe

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